During my preparations for my trip to Japan in next week I’ve looked at many, many websites and blogs stating where to find the best Japanese cuisine. This includes sushi, ramen, oden, udon, okonomiyaki, hot pot, izakaya (bar) snacks, kaiseki, tofu, street food, wagashi, desserts and many more. With each new review I read an increasing crave for all these delicious dishes started to appear as I scrolled through my notebook screen. One particular dish that I plan to eat bowls of in Japan is…RAMEN. Finding a place to inhibit my craving until April proved difficult, until I came across the hip and somewhat secretive little joint, Downtown Ramen, in the Cape Town Fringe District.
Located unassumingly on a perch above Lefty’s Dive Bar, you need to be in the know to find this place. The unassumingness of Downtown Ramen is what makes it a strangely hip joint to slurp up a bowl of delicious brothy noodles, elbow to elbow with the neighboring customer. There’s only six tables and with a system that takes no bookings, it’s best to get there early as it fills up fast.
No need to expect fantastic decor, the ramen does all the talking. Just check the blackboard to see what’s on the menu, and there you go. A steaming bowl of noodles will arrive in minutes. There’s a few to choose from and some has chili for added heat (I’m not sure if this is actually a Japanese trait) which you are welcome to ask the kitchen to remove.
We tried the Shoyu Pork ramen which was, to my delight, deliciously flavorful and balanced perfectly. The pork belly was soft and perfectly browned and flavored, the eggs just gooey enough and the additional topping not scarce. You’re welcome to wash this down with some Japanese beer, but we already had our drinks (from the Lefty’s bar) and did not try any beer.
We ordered some of their traditional baos (steamed buns) for take-away, a later midnight snack, stuffed with sticky beer-braised beef short rib.
Address: 103 Harrington St, Zonnebloem, Cape Town, 7925
Looking for some great dim sum in Cape Town? Read here.